May is Mental Health Awareness Month in the US, dedicated to educating people about mental health and illnesses since 1949. WP Elevation is joining the observance this year with a special emphasis on freelancers and the tech industry. The company, which provides education for WordPress consultants, will be focusing all of its content on mental health topics, including blogs, podcasts, newsletters, and livestreams.
The WP Elevation podcast will feature interviews with mental health experts on Thursdays throughout May:
- May 4: Ed Finkler from Open Sourcing Mental Illness, interviewed by Gin McInneny
- May 11: Cory Miller from iThemes, interviewed by Kristina Romero
- May 18: Andrew Pearce from Anxiety Free Living, interviewed by Cath Hughes
- May 25: Amy Felman – Psychologist and Podcast Presenter of We All Wear it Differently, interviewed by Mike Killen
WP Elevation founder Troy Dean said various employees at the company have been affected by mental health issues and are often conscious of how digital life can keep people separated from each other.
“I have experienced anxiety and depression in the past – to the point where I couldn’t get out of bed some days,” Dean said. “I work very hard to manage my mental health these days through exercise, family life, and hobbies, as well as working hard in business which I find fulfilling. We will be sharing some of our personal stories on our blog during May.”
Focusing on mental health topics is a drastic change from WP Elevation’s normal business topics, but Dean said he hasn’t even thought about how it might affect the company’s revenue.
“We all believe that mental health issues are still weighed down with a certain stigma and we want to encourage people to be more open in having these conversations,” Dean said. “I actually don’t care whether it affects my revenue or not. Without good mental health, revenue is meaningless.”
Working within the WordPress community comes with its own set of unique mental health risks, as many people have their lives deeply embedded in online work. Those who work remotely or by themselves have a greater likelihood of feeling isolated and cut off from others.
“The digital life can keep us isolated for periods of time as we toil away on our projects in front of our computers,” Dean said. “I’ve met a lot of WordPress users over the years at WordCamps who have confided in me that the events are so important because they get to connect with their tribe. I think there is also a risk of online bullying that can make people feel inadequate or ostracized.”
WP Elevation will be supporting Open Sourcing Mental Illness (OSMI), a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting mental wellness and providing resources for those facing mental illness in the tech community. The company is promoting OSMI’s fundraising campaign throughout the month alongside raising awareness around mental health-related topics.
“We have no measurable goals for this initiative,” Dean said. “It is not part of our marketing plan or some larger scheme for us. We have these conversations on a regular basis internally and some of our members have indicated it would be a good idea to have them publicly, so that’s what this is all about. If we can help one person feel less isolated or find the courage to reach out and ask for help when they need it, I’ll consider it a success.”